Wonderful as it is to have new content for a game you loved, the downside to downloadable episodes is that they can occasionally show up flaws that were lost to you during the excited, protracted initial playthrough of the game in question. Dishonored was one of the best games of last year – perhaps one of the best games of this console generation, in fact – and as such returning to the game’s world is still a treat. But by the end of this expansion, which follows on from The Knife of Dunwall, one can’t help but feel that Dishonored doesn’t work quite as well on a smaller scale.
Following on from last episode’s sneaking and stabbing (or running and shooting or blinking and bombing, depending on how you play Dishonored), Brigmore Witches’ three missions are more focused than your typical Dishonored stretch of missions. You’re going after the witch Delilah, although before you get to her you need to faff about for two missions organising a boat, which seems like an odd McGuffin for a game world that is both flooded and populated with thousands of whalers, but oh well.
The first mission is a prison-break, one that makes clever use of the expansion’s ‘favour’ system (which lets you spend cash before missions to make things a little easier) by letting you sneak in dressed as an Overseer if you so please. As cool as this system is, it’s worth noting that the prices on the favours at the start of each mission are oddly low, so you’ll be able to afford them all easily. Still, this one is a nice little riff on the incognito moments explored during the main game’s Lady Boyle mission. The prison itself is disappointingly small and underpopulated, but none the less fun to poke around in.
The second mission is more open, plopping Daud right in the middle of a gang dispute that can, apparently, be resolved in multiple ways. Although the mission structure explicitly laid out for the player is ultimately a little hammy, the level design here is top-notch. The third mission is slightly more subdued than expected, promising horrors that it doesn’t quite deliver on as you explore the mansion that Delilah is holed up in, but it’s otherwise very fun up until the final boss fight, which feels a little out of place.
This all makes for a satisfying adventure, because Dishonored is an inherently satisfying and enjoyable game. But now that we’ve wrapped up Daud’s storyline across these two DLC instalments, it’s perhaps fair to say that the ‘side story’ approach could have been done a bit better. It’s cool having a narrative that fleshes things out a bit more (these three missions are running concurrently to the very beginning of Corvo’s journey), but collecting bone charms, runes and coins, and upgrading your powers, doesn’t hold as much appeal when you don’t have a long-term game to think about.
You’re aware that the end is near for the entirety of this episode, and there’s no real incentive for hunting down extras beyond personal validation. Daud is perhaps a little overpowered for how few enemies the levels contain too, and although there are a few neat twists on the established formula – the new ‘corrupted’ bone charms, for instance, come with buffs that are countered with penalties – there’s no time to flesh them out or get particularly excited about finding them.
As with the main game, Brigmore Witches is designed to be replayed, and is most impressive for its ability to generate exciting little moments and stories that stick in the player’s head. This isn’t Dishonored at its best though, and ultimately feels a little constrained by its nature as a downloadable extra chapter. It’s certainly very enjoyable, but bring on Dishonored 2, I say.